Thursday, March 1, 2018

A Guide To Adirondack Maple Syrup

Maple Sugar bucket - Glenn PearsallIt’s sugaring season, so here’s a round-up of stories about the fine art of maple syrup making in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Isolation and the Lonely Ants Club

carpenter antExcessive tinder is a major contributor to forest fires, but a shortage of Tinder can lead to an early death. For social animals like canines, deer, dolphins, elephants, primates such as bonobos and humans, and even bees and ants, contact with others is as essential to well-being as food and water.

A 2015 study done at Brigham Young University which garnered much news coverage in 2017 and early this year found that loneliness may be a greater health risk than smoking and obesity combined. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 26, 2018

Otter Slides: Sliding Shenanigans

otter I have been living with an otter. He’s long and sleek, a graceful swimmer with an insatiable appetite for fish. At first he was just my boy, a chubby little toddler, happy to snuggle and follow his big sister around. But on the first snow fall of his second year of life, I watched him in his slick blue snowsuit climb up our steep hill, point his round little head down the hill and go, a daring headfirst belly slide. He repeated and repeated until at last he fell asleep at the bottom of his sliding trough, a smile on his red cheeked face. I knew then that I should have named him Lontra canadensis, instead of Liam Samuel. » Continue Reading.


Friday, February 23, 2018

Science of Hoarfrost and Rime Ice

hoarfrostIn folklore and literature, Jack Frost is often portrayed as a mischievous guy, sort of Old Man Winter’s younger self. He’s a personification of everything cold. In our region he’s a busy guy, at least for half of the year.

And an artistic one.

He gets credit for painting the trees orange and yellow and red in the fall. And we’re all familiar with ground frost, that harbinger of winter that looks like a dusting of snow. This phenomenon occurs when the temperature of objects near the ground falls below freezing. Water in the air freezes onto objects, sometimes as what looks like frozen dewdrops, sometimes as branched crystals. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Cloning High Sugar Content Maples Focus of Research

NNYADP-funded research has produced the first Northern New York maple “sweet tree” clonesThe Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has posted the first results of a project evaluating the opportunity to clone high sugar maple trees. The long-term goal is to produce rooted “sweet tree” clones that maple producers can plant to enhance their sugarmaking operations.

Cornell University plant pathologist Keith L. Perry conducted the research in collaboration with Joe Orefice, director of the Cornell Uilhein Maple Research Forest in Lake Placid. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Invasive Species Awareness Week Begins Feb 26th

On the lookout for hungry bugsIn Grade 3, a brilliant joke made the rounds. We’d hold up a sheet of blank white paper and announce it was a polar bear in a snowstorm. Genius is relative for kids. But the first time I drove into a whiteout made me realize how accurate that “art” project was. Anything can hide behind a veneer of snow.

This leads me to ask why February 26-March 3 was chosen as “National Invasive Species Awareness Week.” By this time of year, our awareness has been blunted by a critical shortage of landscape: down is white, up is gray. Right now we’re aware it’s cold, and that the ground has been white for a long while. Seems like Microsoft or Elon Musk or whoever runs the “Special of the Week” calendar could find a better time for drawing folks’ attention to harmful invaders. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

It’s Time for the Great Backyard Bird Count

Counting birds may not be for everyone, but having an opportunity to be a part of a larger project always intrigues me. My family has participated in the annual Christmas Bird Count as well as FrogWatch USA for years. We have counted loons, released monarchs, and monitored nests.

These various citizen science projects all have the same thing in common, asking the general public to provide critical data for future conservation efforts. Some projects require a bit of training while other programs just require being consistent. No matter the project, my family is always willing to learn more about conservation and animals that are indicators of environmental health. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Brains Over Brawn for Male Hummingbirds

Long-billed HermitThe following comes from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

When male animals compete over mates, it’s often a showy affair: think of elk tangling antlers or tom turkeys strutting and gobbling. But for a Costa Rican hummingbird, it seems mental prowess holds the edge over mere physical flamboyance.

New experiments show that dominant male Long-billed Hermits have better spatial memories and sing more consistent songs than less successful males, according to research published this month in the journal Scientific Reports. The benefit of a good spatial memory even outweighs the advantages of bigger body size and extra flight power. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Irruptions: Northern Bird Visitors

snowy owlI have been keeping a close watch on my birdfeeders. Not only because I love seeing the juncos and goldfinches that arrive in flocks, and the black-capped chickadees that zip around, and even the blue jays that tend to scare everyone else away, but because I am hoping for some not-so-typical visitors: red crossbills and pine siskins. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Great Backyard Bird Count Set For February 16-19

snowy owlThe 21st Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) will take place February 16 to 19 in backyards, parks, nature centers, on hiking trails, school grounds, balconies, and beaches across the country.

This global event provides an opportunity for bird enthusiasts to contribute important bird population data that help scientists see changes over the past 21 years.

To participate, bird watchers count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, then enter their checklists at birdcount.org. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Tree and Shrub Sale at Saratoga’s State Tree Nursery

red oak seedlingsMore than 50 species of trees and shrubs from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Saratoga Tree Nursery are now available to public and private landowners and schools.

Spruces, pines, shrub willows, dogwoods, high bush cranberry, winged sumac, white cedar, and wetland rose are among the 50 species available from the State’s Saratoga Tree Nursery. The sale provides low-cost, native tree and shrub seedlings from New York seed sources to encourage landowners to enhance the state’s environment for future generations. Mixed species packets are also available. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Ice-Out Days and Climate Change

ice outWhile driving down from Isle La Motte in early December, my son and I noticed a fine skim of ice floating down the Alburg Passage. As it collided with the Route 2 bridge supports, it broke into rectangular fragments. I wondered if what I was seeing was typical, or a symptom of changing climate? But a single observation tells you only about the current weather, and says nothing about climate trends.

To understand long-term patterns requires long-term data. So I reviewed ice formation data on Lake Champlain. I learned that between 1816 and 1916, the lake was “closed” to navigation in 96 of 100 winters. In the last 30 winters, the lake has closed 13 times, and just three times this past decade. At first blush, this might seem like overwhelming evidence for less ice, but again, this is not the whole story. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Workshop Set For Warrensburg

Hemlock woolly adelgidCornell Cooperative Extension in partnership with DEC has announced they will be hosting Charlotte Malmborg of the New York State Hemlock Initiative at Cornell University to present on the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Rare Blue Supermoon Lunar Eclipse January 31st

blue moonOn the night of December 3, 2017, a moon rose that was unlike any other of the year. Not only was it full, but it was at the closest point to earth during its orbit.

Astronomers refer to this orbital proximity as perigee – a word with Greek origins that means “close to the earth” – thus this full moon was a perigean full moon. Of course the phenomenon is more commonly known as a supermoon, a term coined in 1979, not by an astronomer, but by an astrologer named Richard Nolle. By his definition, a supermoon is a full or new moon that comes within 224,000 miles of the earth. (The average distance is 238,000 miles.) » Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Adirondack Forest-Tent Caterpillars

Forest Tent CaterpillarWinter is not a season when many people think about tents, except maybe to be glad they do not live in one. I do have some friends who love winter camping, and the fact they have never extended an invitation is evidence of how much they value our friendship.

Oddly enough, winter is a crucial time to look for signs of forest-tent caterpillars (FTC). In spite of their name, FTC do not weave a silken tent-like nest like the eastern-tent caterpillar and other species of tent caterpillars. The tent-less lifestyle of forest-tent caterpillars makes it harder to spot outbreaks in spring. » Continue Reading.


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